Gift card churning news

Last week I outlined ways to earn hundreds of thousands of points and miles through gift card churning (see “The art of gift card churning @ #chicagoseminars“).  Today, I have a number of specific updates for people who have taken gift card churning to heart…

Kohl’s triple dip not working

In my recent post “How to maximize your Freedom 5X purchases” I suggested that it might be possible to earn 25 points per dollar at Kohl’s by going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Kohl’s to buy Kohl’s gift cards with your Freedom card, and then go through the mall again to use the gift cards.  However, a reader reported on Saturday that this trick didn’t work for them.  They received points for using a gift card at Kohl’s, but not for buying a gift card.  One reader experience doesn’t prove that the triple dip won’t work for everyone, but its probably not worth the risk.

PlasticJungle / TopCashBack drops to 2.5%

PlasticJungle is a gift card buyer / reseller.  They’re a great resource if you have unused gift cards you’d like to sell (at less than face value).  And, they’re a great resource if you want to buy gift cards at a discount (which is a great way to save money almost anywhere).  Until recently, a cash back portal (TopCashBack) offered 4% cash back at PlasticJungle if you started from their site.  Cash back is awarded whether you buy gift cards from Plastic Jungle, or sell them.  Recently, TopCashBack reduced the payout to 2.5% cash back.  Accordingly, I’ve updated the post “Gift cards: buy low, sell high, get cash back” which can always be found on my Resources tab:

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Walmart gift cards cheaper than usual

Lately, $500 Walmart gift cards have been on sale on EBay for about 5% off of face value (e.g. $475).  That’s pretty good, especially considering that purchases of merchant gift cards on EBay earn EBay bucks, which means you get an additional 1.9% rebate (2% of $475 = $9.5, which equals 1.9% of $500).  The catch is that the sellers don’t ship the cards for a month or more.

One reason that discount Walmart gift cards are interesting is that Walmart sells Visa gift cards online and will let you pay with gift cards.  The best value, currently, is to buy $200 Visa or MasterCard gift cards for $206.88 each.  This amounts to a 3.44% fee.  However, if you pay with a Walmart gift card that you bought at a 6.9% discount, you are still well ahead!

OfficeMax tightens up

In the posts “10% off everything and 7% off everything else” and “How to buy points for free” I described a few great ways to leverage the American Express OPEN Savings program now that those savings apply only to online orders at OfficeMax.  The trick involves buying OfficeMax gift cards online (for 10% cash back) and then upgrading them in-store (e.g. use them to buy better gift cards).  I haven’t had any trouble upgrading at my local OfficeMax, but a number of readers have reported that their OfficeMax stores don’t allow it.  In fact, fellow blogger Delta Points tells me that his OfficeMax used to allow it, but has recently cracked down.  If you’re thinking of trying this technique, consider starting very small to check whether your local OfficeMax store is upgrade-friendly.


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Comments

  1. I drive by an Office Max on the way home from work and have never had an issue. However, I usually only upgrade a few hundred $ worth, well maybe 1K from time to time. I do this 1-2 times a week and most cashiers at least recognize me. I believe in moderation and hope this easy way to earn miles will continue for years to come

  2. I’ve also experienced the OMax crack down. Store just outright refuses to do it. Thankfully I only had a few hundred in cards handy. So now I have enough ink to last for the next year!

  3. @FM. Just curious if in your talks with AMEX BB people were you able to learn if it could be loaded with GC like Amex or Walmart. I can re ask this question on your BB post page if you prefer

  4. I wish office max had more to offer me. Office Depot is great for vanilla reload packs (plentiful near me) and Staples usually offers some FAR deals (none for the last few months) but Office Max has nothing to offer me. I hope they can do something to get me to go to the store. Would love to spread my ink bold spending around.

  5. This may be hard to answer, but are there any gift cards that OfficeMax sells that Office Depot or Staples does not sell? This would be the only reason I would go to OfficeMax these days.

  6. Ugh…Just ordered $500 worth of OM GC’s. I’ve never had a problem with my officemax. As long as it isn’t a computer thing, hopefully my gals will continue to show me some love.

  7. The ‘catch’ about the sellers not shipping for a month or more…

    Is that to circumvent buyer protection within Paypal?

  8. FM, I’ve got a couple questions.

    First, I want to buy a piece of clothing at Kohl’s and am trying to figure out how to get the best deal. The Freedom gets 5x pts, but it sounds like the double/triple dip won’t work now. Does that mean if I guy a gc at Kohls.com with the Freedom, I only get the 5x from the Freedom but not the 10x from the UR mall, or I would get 0 pts altogether? An alternative would be to use my supermarket cards (eg. Blue Cash Pref) to get a gc there.

    Regarding the ebay/Walmart thing, my local supermarket sells Ebay gc. I mentioned I can get 6% cash back for those with AMEX BCF. Would I be able to buy a Walmart gc on Ebay using an Ebay gc? That would be 6% cash (or 6 HH pts if I use my Hilton AMEX) in addition to the savings you outlined.

    • Dave: For Kohl’s, the easiest option right now is to simply go through the UR mall and pay with your Freedom card. You’ll get a combined 15X. Also, don’t forget to find and use a 20% off coupon before you checkout. Yes you could save a bit more by buying Kohl’s gift cards at a discount elsewhere, but I’m not sure its worth the extra hassle.
      .
      Regarding EBay, yes you can use EBay gift cards to buy Walmart gift cards online. Your suggestion of using the BCP to buy EBay gift cards at a grocery store is an excellent one.

  9. The walmart cards at ebay sounds very risky. 1 month delay and no assurance they are actually active cards (i.e they can simply be shoplifted unactivated cards).

    Unless this was a seller with a very high number of excellent feedback scores I’d avoid.

    A quick ebay search identified the listing – with text:

    “This listing is for a NEW $500 Walmart Gift Card…Can be used at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club…in store or online. This item will ship on NOVEMBER 24th, 2012…if you cannot wait that long for it to be sent out, pleae DO NOT bid on this item. This delay allows ample time to allow payment to clear and to protect against chargebacks. This item will not ship before 11/24/12. You are biddig on an actual Gift Card and will NOT be sent the code via e-mail. PLEASE Do Not Bid if you cannot wait until 11/24/12.

    Please e-mail with questions. THANKS!”

  10. @Russel – the ebay seller has likely been scammed (or is a scammer himself worried he’ll be scammed)

    The scam is to buy gift cards via CCs and then dispute the charge claiming there was no value on the gift card. But the buyer goes ahead and uses the card (or, more likely, resells on Ebay or the gift card resellers online – most of which are barely legitimate fronts for card scamming rings)

  11. just wanted to add I just placed two separate orders at Kohl’s and only received points back on the purchase with the giftcard, not the purchase of the giftcard. would’ve bought both from Kohl’s anyway (Keurig brewers are an awesome price right now!), but was hoping deep down I’d be able to double dip. But 15% back in points aint too shabby either :)

  12. After reading this post, I called OfficeMax and cancelled a gift card order I’d placed last week. They were able to cancel, several days after my order.

  13. FM, have you had any luck buying Visa gift cards in a Walmart store using e-code you purchased on-line? Now that Walmart sells variable load cards up to $500 in it’s stores, the margins are much better than purchasing from Walmart.com. I tried to buy one in-store but the clerk said it wasn’t allowed and she wouldn’t run it so I’ll have to try again elsewhere.

    • Piecerate: Great idea. I’ve never tried. You might have better luck with a physical Walmart gift card. Use your ecode online to buy the physical card and then take that to Walmart…

  14. Yeah, I like that idea. That could scale up nicely. As a test, I am going to buy a $25 Walmart card today and turn around and try buy a $25 visa card with it. I’ll report back. If I can’t get a clerk that will run it I’ll then be able to see if the register allows it. You would think that if you can do it on-line you can do it in the store but we shall see.

  15. It worked! The Walmart I went to didn’t have a self check out so I went through a checker but she didn’t blink. I bought a $25 dollar Visa gift card with a plastic Walmart gift card. My next test will be to try it at a self serve check out. I will then try larger amounts and then I guess I will move the funds move onto a Target Am Ex for easy disposal. I still have to think through the end game. I wouldn’t have thought about this without the above post. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thx FM.

    • Piecerate: That’s good news, but it still doesn’t prove that variable load cards will work. I’m looking forward to hearing how that goes! If it works then one could cash out through a Target Amex

  16. I was able to purchase a $100 Visa gift card in-store but no go on a variable load. I had a sympathetic checker who tried both a Visa and a MasterCard but neither worked. It looks like $100 is the highest fixed load Walmart sells and the fees are around $5 so that doesn’t make much sense vs. on-line options. I’m going to try one more time at another Walmart but I’m not optimistic. Have you been successful getting the 2.5% from topcashbach when you’ve purchased Walmart cards at Plastic Jungle? That 2.5% dramtically improves the deal.

  17. So I had another run at Wally’s and I had some success. I was able to buy a variable load VISA with a load of $185. I paid with a Walmart gift card. It was not a vanilla product like the one I tried before. I had a candy cane on it is issued by University National Bank. I don’t know if it went trough because of the product or the amount. The card cost $4.94 — so the margins are better than on-line but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. I guess I just find to figure out what is possible. At this point, I don’t think a variable load will work at a self-check but will work at a regular register under certain circumstances. I also think that you have to have the right person or they will tell you if won’t work and won’t try.

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